It's a useful concession, but I'm wondering if it's in response to the recently announced EU plan to penalise non-EU airlines which have received state funding. This is clearly directed at the US and its airlines and were the EU to press ahead, it would cause a pretty vicious battle.
The EU has, contrary to what the article has said, been successful in getting airlines to strike down their open skies deals with the US, in that the EU court has ruled these illegal, so they have to abandon them. The UK has a problem with Heathrow, the Irish are happily shooting themselves in the foot with the Shannon stopover, Greece has an Olympic battle ahead of it, but Spain can deal with it manana. However, the EU will hopefully focus attention on the first two - Ireland and Britain - which are said to have the biggest objection to the EU negotiating directly with the US.